Bob Tullius stars at TR Register International Weekend with Pistons in the Park
As the gates of Lincolnshire Showground opened to herald the start of world’s largest festival of Triumph TR sports cars, enthusiasts from all over the globe arrived under beautiful blue skies and blazing hot sunshine to celebrate the marque with the very best summer weather imaginable.
It was Friday afternoon on the 29th June and by 2pm, the first of the campers were already erecting tents and sparking up their barbecues. But, whilst the excitement for the festivities that lay ahead began to build on the showground, just 20 miles north a good number of attendees had their minds focused purely on speed as the Blyton Park Trackday offered the chance to drive your TR on one of the finest track-day venues in the country.
The high temperatures gave the circuit at Blyton Park, now owned as a testing facility by Ginetta, plenty of grip and the high-speed straights coupled with tight chicanes gave Triumph brakes a good work out. There was a tremendous variety of cars out on track from some very tasty track focused TR7V8s to a Peerless and many TRs in standard road going trim. Other marques also joined in including some serious looking Porsche 944 Turbos.
It was great fun to watch so many of the drivers on the track day, unloading camping gear from their boots before taking to the circuit!
The short journey be-tween Blyton Park and Lincolnshire Showground was just long enough for the adrenalin to sub-side and thoughts to turn to the meet and greet evening in the entertainment marquee at the western edge of the display arena.
The TR International Weekend with Pistons in the Park was then officially opened in the Duckhams Arena by Graham Robson and Wayne Scott who began with an overview of the Triumph TR line and a preview of the what the weekend ahead would offer.
The Pistons in the Park element added a number of new exhibitors to the event. There were even more modern classics in the epic centre including an immaculate Capri, stunning yellow Ferrari Dino, Noble and a number of Fast Fords displaying on the opposite half of the hall to the Triumph Survivors, Concours D’Elegance and Pride of Ownership contenders.
The TR Register club took the opportunity here to exhibit some significant TRs. The famous Jabbeke TR2 joined the clubs own ‘TS2’. A celebration of the anniversary of the Peerless racing at Le Mans saw the genuine Peerless Le Mans race car on show, which the TR Register were incredibly honoured to have throughout the weekend. The TR4 of Nick Mountford, that races in the Equipe GTS race series, with its tribute to the Group 44 livery, completed the line up in honour of the event’s special guest, Bob Tullius.
In the trade hall, Hamilton Classic joined the many TR specialists and suppliers who, like us, used the opportunity to meet customers face to face and build relationships.
TR Register Autosolo
The motorsport action for the weekend was not just limited to Friday at Blyton Park as the event saw the return of the TR Register Autosolo, held at the top of the showground where the roads were suitable. This year however, as well as a number of TRs pitching their wits against the cones for the fastest time of the day, the course featured a huge variety of machines including the de-lights of a demonstration of Group B rally cars, whose engines could be heard ringing out across the entire showground! The course featured a tight clockwise 360 around a central cone, then a blast down to a left-hand chicane, down to an anticlockwise 360 then back to the top to repeat the clockwise 360 via the chicane. The final section took competitors back down the course, again via the chicane, before a high-speed squirt through a left-hand apex into a slalom to finish on a stop astride - sounds simple, right?! At the beginning of Saturday, many competitors were struggling to beat the 1 minute dead mark but by the close of the course that afternoon, the leaders were all approaching sub 50 seconds. Although entries were sparse, especially on the Sunday, those that took part either entered into fierce but good-natured competition or just had an absolute blast taking part just for fun. An Autosolo is such a great way to enjoy motorsport with no risk of damage to your car and everyone who took the time to get involved left the course grinning from ear to ear.
Saturday’s arena displays included a visit from the Sporting Bears Club showing off a Lamborghini, AC Cobra and a Lotus Exige, all available for rides to raise money for one of their many children's charities. There was a good variety of cars through the Duckhams sponsored arena, for example the owner who had painstakingly recreated a Ferrari Daytona with convincing results and another owner’s cosseted Ford Sierra Cosworth 4 - wheel drive, which was popular with the assembled audience.
The afternoon continued with a selection of simply massive military vehicles, all fire and rescue units including a six-wheeled Range Rover built by the special vehicles department at Solihull, the final trailing axle required for carrying the extra weight of the water bowser. The Peerless and Warwick invasion of the Duckhams Arena provided another highlight on Saturday afternoon and a chance to celebrate the 60th anniversary of a Peerless competing at Le Mans. The lineup was completed by the Buick V8 powered Warwick that Celia Stephens brought into the arena for a chat about Historic Motorsport in the modern era.
Mid - afternoon and it was time for the ‘Meet the Owners’ session for all of the Triumph cars at the show and what a selection they had. What was immediately obvious was the fantastic line up of TR7s and TR8s that joined us. Almost every strain of wedge was represented including a genuine factory TR8 prototype - left hand drive of course, a factory TR7 Sprint, 4-speed and 5-speed coupes and convertibles and all complimented by an insightful chat with Christopher Ken-neth Smith who must own the largest collection of TR7s on the planet! A couple of 1950s beige TR3s caught the eye and a couple of GTR4 Dove’s added to the rarity value.
In three 30 minute slots spread throughout the day, we enjoyed a variety from full rock bands to acoustic singer-songwriters, all perfectly matching the mood and tone of the relaxed atmosphere in the sunshine. The moment where 40 plus international TRs entered the arena to the sound-track of Fleetwood Mac’s - The Chain played live was a definite highlight of the Duckhams Arena in 2018!!
As the shadows lengthened and the campers basked in the deep red glow of a Lincolnshire sun-set, it was time for the evening entertainment to get underway. First of all, live band ‘The Beats’ got everyone dancing with sixties covers and Beatles tributes followed by a disco - complete with a TR3A front as the DJ booth!
It was the early hours of the morning by the time the last of revelers stumbled back to their campsites.
Sunday at the Lincolnshire Showground welcomed another element to proceedings, the Standard Triumph Marque Day with an impressive number of vehicles displaying in the Duckhams arena representing something from all of the 14 different clubs from the Standard Triumph community. As ever it was fabulous to see so many of the Triumph clubs coming together to exhibit.
Bob Tullius - racing legend in conversation.
At two-o’clock, a healthy crowd had gathered to meet US racing legend, Bob Tullius, for an hour long, intimate conversation. Bob Tullius ran and drove for Group 44, the most successful road racing team of the 1960s - 1980s. Beginning his racing career in a TR3 in 1961 he went on to race most of the iconic British sports cars. His TR resume includes victories in TR4s, TR250s, TR6s and as he revealed, his fa-vourite TR, the TR8. Bob Tullius’ career saw him rack up over 300 victories across 3 of the most competitive series, the SCCA, IMSA GTP and SCCA Trans Am Pro. He is also credited with taking Jaguar back to Le Mans after a 30-year hiatus, long before the Tom Walkinshaw prepared, Silk Cut and Castrol sponsored cars had even been considered. It was clear from the very beginning that Bob Tullius loves the UK fans and talked candidly about his career, sharing many stories of epic battles and race car development in one of the most en-gaging hour-long conversations anyone could have hoped for. He shared his secrets behind the success of Group 44, including how he showed the industry how important PR and public image was for a race team’s success with its sponsors, proven by the fact that he enjoyed a close relationship with Quaker State who supported the team financially for over 18 years. His story of how he was gifted a TR4 by Triumph only to crash it and be re-fused another from the factory, forcing him to buy a car instead raised many smiles, as did his account of the moment when his boss asked him to choose between his career at Kodak and his racing which, by the mid - sixties, had begun to dominate his life.